Ruling AK party wins Turkey polls

Prime minister Erdogan vows to press on with Turkey's bid to join the EU.

    Erdogan vowed to respect the "basic principles" of a "secular social and democratic republic" [AFP]

    "We will continue to work with determination to achieve our European Union goal," he said.
     
    The move would come despite a growing disillusionment in Turkey towards joining the European bloc.
     
    EU agenda
     
    Erdogan said: "I understand the message you have sent through the election."
     
    "We will support and protect what our nation has entrusted us with. We will work to undertake the duty you have given us."
     
    He promised to respect the "basic principles" of a "secular social and democratic republic".
     
    "We will never compromise the basic principles of our republic. These principles are needed for a strong and wealthy Turkey," he said.
     
    He stressed the importance of plurality of "political voices" and said his party would continue "in the same way as before" with its free-market policies and Turkey's stalled ambition for EU membership.
     

    Nigar Goksel, the editor of a Turkish political magazine, told Al Jazeera: "The EU has been off the agenda for a while ... however, now it looks like the prime minister has put it back, high up on his agenda."

     
    Moral triumph
     
    Two secularist parties also crossed the 10 per cent threshold to enter parliament, the Republican People's party (CHP) with about 20 per cent and the National Movement party (MHP) with 13 per cent.
     

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    No other party passed the threshold but 24 independent Kurdish candidates also won seats.

    The CHP, which was set up by Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish republic, has become more inward looking over the years and is hostile to the idea of Turkey's membership of the European Union.

    Cengiz Aktar, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera: "If Attaturk were alive today ... he wouldn't be very happy with the performance of his followers [in the CHP party]. His path was clearly a European path."

     

    "He was clearly pro-European," he said.

     
    The contest was viewed as pivotal in determining the balance between Islam and secularism in this nation of more than 70 million.
     
    The result is a moral triumph for Erdogan who called early parliamentary polls after losing a battle with the establishment, which includes army generals, who did not want his ex-Islamist ally, Abdullah Gul, as head of state.
     
    The army views itself as the ultimate guarantor of Turkey's secular state and has removed four cabinets from power in 50 years, most recently an Islamist-minded predecessor of the AK Party in 1997.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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